Holding eight picks in the MLS SuperDraft is a huge asset.
It sure beats the alternative from last season when the Philadelphia Union didn’t possess a first-round pick.
On Thursday, the Union will pick No. 2 and No. 6. Overall, they have eight total selections, which could change any minute depending on potential trades.
But the Union will be major players in this draft.
“This year, we are in the exact opposite (situation),” Union manager John Hackworth said on a conference call with reporters Monday morning. “So it's a much different draft. As far as our scouting, we have spent a lot more time on the road making sure we have seen as many college games as possible, so we would see these guys in their playing environment before we get to the combine here.
“We have certainly invested more time and energy out of necessity more than anything and making sure with the picks we have that we have to do a really good job. Big picture, it's not like we ever intentionally tried to get away from the style that I've tried to talk about and the style we've trained with every day. The reality is in the modern era of this game you're going to have to be able to adjust.
“Certainly, there were games last year where we were effective and I wasn't really proud of the style. But this year, one of our biggest challenges is we have some resources, not only in this draft in the number of picks we have, and specifically the number of high picks, but we also have some resources to go outside and make some changes. Last year we didn't have any of those.”
Now, they do.
“Going back to last year, we didn't have any chips to play, so to speak,” Hackworth said. “We had to sit there for an awful long time knowing we had no moves to make. In this particular draft, I think we have potentially a ton of moves. There's a lot that's going to happen, it's going to be a very fluid process. Some of that might shake down before we actually get to the draft, and then there is definitely going to be some movement within the draft.”
One of the toughest parts of selecting players is going for a specific player at a specific position or picking the best player available.
“That's going to have to be a tough decision because I think there's absolutely value in picking the best player available,” Hackworth said. “And yet in reality, you need to have knowledge of what you can get for (there). What value does he bring, does he allow you to trade and get what you need from another team? There's a lot of these dynamics in play when you start talking about taking the best player available and you leave yourself in a position where you aren't covering the positions you need to add at.”
Hackworth then spoke at length about specific needs for the Union and the draft as a whole.
“We need to maximize this draft,” he said. “We need to do a really good job selecting players that we feel can really contribute. We have a couple of position-specific areas where we need to add depth, absolutely, and I think that's our main focus right now in looking at this draft and this draft pool. There's obviously a lot of talk about centerbacks in this particular draft. Right now we have two centerbacks on our roster, so that's an area.
“Probably the player that position-specific is getting rated more highly than anybody is (Connecticut goalkeeper Andre) Blake. We have Zac (MacMath), he's our number one. But then you've got a young player like Andre, and he's clearly showing he's a player for the future.”
What do you think about the mindset heading into Thursday's SuperDraft? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at firstname.lastname@example.org